#AMMConnect Bio : Mercy Killers

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These are a few of my favorite things:
Books: Anything by Tahereh Mafi, Six of Crows, And I Darken, Rosewood,  The Winner’s Curse, Rook, Red Rising, Horde, anything by Veronica Rossi and Holly Black.
TV shows and Movies: Stranger Things, Dark, A Handmaid’s tale, Arrow, Crazy Ex-girlfriend, Harlots, Full Metal Alchemist, The Good Doctor, Black Mirror, Death Note, every horror/gothic/steampunk movie ever.

Hi! I’m Jessica Grace Kelley.

This is my #AmmConnect bio. If you’re unfamiliar with Author mentor Match, check it out by clicking on the link.

I started writing novels after spending a year reviewing books on my book blog, anchoredgypsy.com. I work with teens as a fiction teacher at The Muse Writer’s Center and present a YA workshop with HRW’s Traveling Pen series. Blogging is still a passion, and I’m happy to be a contributor at allthewayya.com.









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There are worse things that dying from the Plague.    You could survive it, and be forced to serve as a     Mercy Killer.

Quick Summary :

At age 19, the Guardian has taken hundreds of lives, euthanizing sufferers so they don’t have to endure the Plague’s cruel end. When he arrives in Attica, the only city with a perfect quarantine system, people treat him like a God.

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But Greylin, a 17-year-old vagabond who grew up outside the safety of Attica, can’t see past the blood on the Guardian’s hands. She understands the Plague’s danger because she lost a childhood friend to the sickness. Greylin is the only one asking the question: why is a Mercy Killer visiting the only city that’s never fallen to the Plague?  The Guardian doesn’t travel for fun, he travels for work, and his occupation is death.

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Mercy Killers has

*Twisted themes * Glittery atmosphere * Enemies to lovers *Complicated female friendships *Flawed antiheroes *Morally gray characters *Murder *Magic *Spiderwebs  *Roma Culture *Tragic backstory *Redemption for the wicked




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The hook is killer, pun intended. The characters are vivid. But at this point it’s a slow burn, and that needs to be fixed. I want to build a story that does this hook and these characters justice. I will slay and bleed and slaughter words like it is my job, because that’s what’s being a writer is. For me, this mentorship isn’t just about THIS project, it’s about learning craft and buckling up the the long run.


Why Pick Me?.

  • Revisions don’t scare me. They excite me. I always want the work to be better.
  • I’m fast. I can spit out 5k+ words in a day without blinking.
  • Re-writing is my jam.
  • Little darlings? Let’s murder them all! It’ll be fun.
  • Craft matters to me.  Every plot point, character, and arc.
  • I am so aware of how much I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.

Writing is my life. I teach fiction, I freelance, and I’m part of a fiction studio.  My projects have won the YA Authors.me contest, the YA Molly Award, the Emma Merritt Award, the Fools for love Contest, and placed top three in over a dozen others. Despite these small successes, I know that I’m not where I need to be– but I’m close. I want to learn how to navigate a pitch, how to polish a query until it stuns, and how to build a story with forward movement, sharp dialogue,  and out of this world imagery.

What I’m looking for in a Mentor

I want you to love my story, and I want you to see the flaws.

Tell me to cut. Tell me to kill. Ask me to burn a chapter, replace a POV,  or rewrite fifteen scenes, I welcome it. It’s going to happen– I’m pretty sure I have soggy beginning syndrome. Teach me to pull out the dark and gritty threads that make a story great. Show me how to build a submission package. Give me pointers on choosing an agent. Let’s brainstorm together, laugh, cry over failures and celebrate the highs. I want to get to know you.

I really, really hope I get the chance to be a mentee.  And when I learn enough to reach my goals, I promise to help someone else do the same.


Thanks to all the Mentors who give their time toward this incredible event. I hope you all find a book you love! Special shout out to Heather Kaczynski and Alexa Donne for creating and managing this incredible opportunity.

Good luck Mentees!



Agentless Again, But Happy!

Hey guys! 312185_2077885938c24faca78ead0529a48c82-mv2 (1)

I have a big announcement to make. I am back to querying once again! I really enjoyed working with my agent, I learned so much from him, but sometimes life takes you in different directions. Check out my guest blog post, Agentless Again, but Happy to read more about my experience.

Thanks for sticking with me guys! Big things are to come.

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Premise and Momentum


I want to share an exercise with you all that recently helped me better understand drama, momentum and stakes. I’m part of a workshop and we did this exercise in my last class. It really opened up my current work in progress. I hope it helps you guys as much as it helped me!


This is an exercise by Bill Johnson, it is NOT MINE! I simply want to share his wisdom. I’ve reworded a few things, but I take no credit. Here is a link to the full essay, which I highly encourage you all to read. Everything below is just a brief overview.

Each character needs to have their own stakes and they all need to be somehow connected in order to drive the story forward. How do you do that?

To create drama, the writer needs to make the reader care about what is going on. That is easier said than done. The best way to do that is to convey
1- What is at stake in the world of the story
2- What is at stake for the individual in the story
3- What is at stake in each individual scene
4- How the outcome of individual scenes and character goals move the story forward.

What’s at stake in the world of the story (the premise) needs to be connected to each character’s personal stakes. If there is drama that the character isn’t emotionally attached to, then the characters can come off as mechanical, acting only to advance the story. If a character doesn’t have forward momentum then they aren’t necessary, not matter how funny/sweet/ wonderful they are. They only interrupt forward movement.

How do you test this? EASY!

1- What is the premise of your story/ book?
2-What is at stake for each of your characters (even the minor ones!)
3- What is the main thing in the way of each character?
4- Locate one scene or character that does not advance the plot and cut them! Your story will open up!

48042-Book-NerdI cannot describe how great this exercise was. Surprisingly, the hardest part for each of us in the class was figuring out what our premise really was. How can you write a book if you don’t know exactly what  you are writing about? Writers tend to do that more often than you’d think, especially in the beginning. It is easy to think your premise is something it’s not. For example, I though my premise was ” Revenge on the bay guy” but after some digging I realized my premise is “Revenge takes more than it gives you”. That is a premise I can craft a meaningful novel around and build characters with.

Good luck guys, and keep writing!jessica grace kelleyt signature


The Publishing Industry is Subjective

If you are a writer who’s ever pitched a novel, or simply googled insight into the publishing industry, chances are you’ve heard this before.

I know I’ve heard it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve even accepted it. But it wasn’t until this past week I truly understood it. The following experience gave me a different view on those words.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to judge the first round of a writing contest. It was a simple “answer these questions, see if you qualify, and you can judge” sort of thing, but I was still looking forward to it. I couldn’t wait to see what the contest process was like from the other side! I opened the entries with excitement, read through them, made notes, and instantly attached to a certain story.  A week later I reread my samples, focusing on the technicalities and quality of writing. I carefully considered, tried to provide helpful feedback, and sent my judged files back to the contest coordinator with a sense of satisfaction. My judgments were fair. Every score I gave could be justified (at least by me!).

But here’s the crazy thing-

I didn’t give my favorite story the highest score.

Why? Because technically, it wasn’t the best. The highest scoring story flowed better. The sample was flawless. There were no mistakes, no awkward phrasing, and no grammatical errors (that I picked up on). It was simply  well written.

However, something about the second ranking sample spoke to me. The characters grabbed me, and the story drew me in. I wanted to read it.

What’s really puzzling is if I were to summarize the story lines, the highest ranking book had a better plot. More happened. It moved at a quick pace. But there was something about the second place book I loved. I don’t know what it was. I can’t explain it. It simply connected with me.

As I ponder this experience  I’m blasted with an understanding I thought I previously grasped, but obviously didn’t.

The love of a book is subjective.859697

My judging experience opened
my eyes to a new side of things. I’ll probably need to reread this post in the future to remind myself, but I finally understand. If  I were an agent, I wouldn’t have requested a full for an arguably well written book, simply because it didn’t speak to me.

This taught me how important it is to find people who connect with your work.  If my writing is good, and I constantly strive to improve my craft, eventually I will find the right people to help me get my book out there. A big part of success is commitment.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. jessica grace kelleyt signature

Until then, I’ll keep writing




House of Kings

Come to me, you beautiful book!

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The House of Kings cover nails the series vibe with the sultry, mysterious vamp king and the strong, beautiful Alivia dominating the front.

I hate spoilers, so I’ll just give a little overview of the excitement level in this book. There’s death, Kings and lost love. Lies and speculation snowball into heartbreaking danger and threats.  Old flames die off, then disappear, then come back, and new flames shine … brighter? There’s love, lust, temptation, and did I mention the heat in this book is smoking?


But House of Kings is also full of sticky, bitter, complicated angst. Alivia’s heart is shattered into a hundred little pieces, which gives her a few scars. she finally wakes up as her new self, which awakens parts that are vicious and flawed. It was hard to see Alivia struggle, but I also think it was necessary.  Characters need flaws in order to create depth and show growth. I think Alivia is going to be redeemed in the next book, along with another key character that might of made some mistakes too…

But no spoilers!

King Cyrus is such an interesting character. I love the dark guys. Raheem is sexy walking, and Ian is, well, he’s Ian.

I do want to warn you. Keary likes to cut a story off at a high stake point. She wants to guarantee her readers come back, and she is a pro at carrying out her mission. As much as I loved the book and the ending, the suspense is not fun. The ending is a sharp drop off a helluva tormenting cliffhanger.

So, I’m ready for the next book. When is the release date?

Does anyone know?

I need to know!

4.5 stars for Keary Taylor’s House of Kings! As much as I loved this book, I think some of the supporting cast could be fleshed out a little more. I received an ARC from the Author, and I am so happy I didn’t have to wait as long to read this book!

But now I need to wait longer to read the next one. I see a downside there, but I’m not complaining!

Grab your copy of House of Kings here!